Finally Seeing the Light

Rumor has it that even the Japanese teachers are having issues with this year’s first year junior high school students.

With a few exceptions, I’ve not found them particularly bad, although they seem to already have an attitude that isn’t usually developed until they are second graders. The attitude manifests as 1) not getting seated quickly after the bell rings; 2) talking when I’m talking, getting quiet, and then talking about how they don’t understand me as soon as I start talking again; 3) listening quietly and nodding and smiling as I speak in a way that’s supposed to mock me because they don’t understand and that makes me stupid (remember, they are almost teenagers); and 4) quickly turning every class into play time.

Today all four things happened in one class, the latter three as I tried to explain an assignment that would take a couple days to do. The result was that the option to memorize became mandatory and several students have already failed because they were playing and not working.

Every time students are talking or playing with people who are not in their group, I assume they are finished and bring them up to the front to their final performance. Because they are not ready, and it is not memorized, they have already failed but have to go again.

One student would start a wrestling match every time my back was turned and one time I caught him kicking his favorite target. I explained to his partner that both of them had just earned zeroes for the day. This led to a discussion where I explained that both partners get the same score and that the better student either needs to choose a better partner or get control of the partner he has. Eventually I saw it click in his eyes and they worked more quietly after that.

Next class will be the final performance day. My rule is that “if you are noisy, you are next”, even if you’ve already finished your performance.

The record is one performance plus three do-overs. I suspect we’ll break that next time.

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